An easy way to locate feeding fish in January is to watch for diving sea birds.
They identify the exact places where stripers, bass or white perch are chasing forage fish to the surface. The feeder fish are squeezed by the predators from below and the birds from above. Surface feeding activity can result in a memorable fishing trip, but don't expect it to happen every day.
When fish aren't surface feeding, they move deeper into the water, where temperatures are a few degrees warmer. If in doubt, fish deeper. In addition to temperature considerations, herring live in deep water. This forage fish is the one most sought after by the deep swimming stripers, spotted bass and white perch.
When fish are deep, your fish finder is useful. Constant surveillance of the screen will eventually show their presence. When the "Fish ID Mode" is disabled, fish will appear as arches. The thicker the arch, the larger the fish will be. A concentration of arches indicates that a school of fish is under the boat.
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Very cold water drives fish to the hot water discharge channels of Lake Norman's two power plants. Hot hole fish can be caught by using a multitude of methods, including tossing surface lures when fish are feeding on top.
When fish are deep, live bait, buck tails and spoons work most of the time.
On sunny afternoons, large bass and stripers will sometimes cruise or not move at all in extremely shallow water. When that happens, they are not there to feed but to warm their bodies from the heat generated by the rays of the sun, but can be tempted into biting.
Regardless of how or where you fish in late winter, be prepared for chilly mornings and cold days, particularly when a weather front has just passed.
Regulars, usually have a propane heater on board to warm wet hands and cold faces. Single, double or triple heater heads are mounted atop 20-pound propane tanks. Others use smaller catalytic heaters mounted on one pound disposable cylinders.